Community Project: Dawson City Hospital

Think about it.

When admitted to hospital, having doctors and nurses keeping watch over you, providing a calm and safe place for you to heal… Do you stop to say how truly grateful you are for them?

Do you acknowledge that these people, in the health and helping sector also have lives, their own people to take care of, and also have themselves to nurture?

All the countless hours of helping strangers, in all sorts of stages of life and health, at any time of day or night- being ready to not only provide medical care, but also a kind and thoughtful approach to you and your health.

Yes, I know, it is their job. But still- shouldn’t we still voice our gratitude once in a while?

IMG_6993I really like this photo of my Doctor’s Office. I sneaked a photo when I was waiting for her to come back from checking on some paperwork.

Recently spending time in the hospital, I spent two nights in the new Dawson City Hospital- and I must say, what a beautiful centre as a brand new building, but also as a community of doctors, therapists, nurses, and pharmacist.

IMG_6841Late night trip to the ER- I really do hate hospital gowns.

Gone were the fears of strange hospitals, with cracking paint and scuffed floors, and that awful lysol/sickly smell of unwell people. What I found were beautiful murals, spacious rooms, and wonderful staff. Because of my situation- I had to have an eye kept on me, so I got to know some of the nurses quite well- (on a patient/nurse kind of terms I guess) 

IMG_7112My nurse let me pick out some tea once I got settled in- David’s Tea at that! How special- ūüôā¬†

IMG_7109Yes, I was painting the closet. After they gave me a dose of my anti-anxiety meds. I just felt so chill and all I could really focus on was the closet- Soon fell asleep after the third closet.

The genuine humour, laughter, and interest they had shown in both myself and my artwork was so wonderful. I immediately felt safe, calm, and content in my room. It is amazing how your environment and mental state can affect your quality of sleep. Рeven sleeping on a hospital bed- (a.k.a. Рa bit like sleeping on a block of wood)  I slept like a rock, and woke up in a calm, almost meditative manner. What a wonderful change to the not-so-good nights I had been having previously.

So- To thank all these wonderful people. I decided to create my Community Project into something that would acknowledge all the special people at the Dawson City Hospital. (At least- the ones that I was lucky enough to have as providers of care for me) 

How I did this was I began to knit.

I love knitting- and have always found it very therapeutic. Lately, I have been making these little pouches, “Marsupial-satchels” I call them. To carry special things that one may find dear to their heart.

IMG_7046                     Here is one I made for a dear friend of mine for her little mouse named Candlelight.

Using beautiful yarn my mother had sent me in a care-package, I began to knit and crochet thinking of all the caring people who I had met when I was at the hospital. With every stitch, I silently said thank you, with every little detail, I silently reminded myself how grateful I was to have crossed paths with them. It was a very healing and meditative experience to create these little pouches. I knitted eleven pouches. And then included a little letter within each one. Here is a quote from the letter:

“Just wanted to say thank you for all of your help and patience over these past few weeks.¬†To be able to have a safe place to go to when on cannot provide that for herself is a blessing. Therefore ~ Thank you, for being YOU! As part of my Community project for SOVA, I would very much appreciate any comments, feedback, etc. on what you think of your homemade marsupial-satchels. I wanted to give a token of appreciation, ~ you may keep, give away, switch, as you like with these little pouches. Just wanted to show in my own little way, how thankful I am for crossing paths with you ~ as you have made it a more positive one to walk.”

IMG_7224A photo showing all the little pouches with letters inside~ ready to be dropped off at the hospital! 

IMG_7225A close up- I hand wrote the letter, and made photocopies, providing my email and blog address for people to check out this article, and maybe even leave some feedback about what they thought about it all! 

IMG_7226Here I am wearing one Рto show size and where they would approx. rest on the body. РThis pouch was made for one of the amazing doctors I am lucky enough to see once a week to help me through this all. 

So far, I have not heard back from any of the medical staff on what they thought about their little marsupial-satchels. I hope to hear via email, or face to face, what they thought about it. Even if I don’t hear a peep from anyone- I know that I myself felt¬†love and joy¬†making and giving these away to those that had helped me, so hopefully, that loving energy will be passed along with these pouches to the 11 gentle souls who made my life a little easier to cope with this past month.

And that is my Community Project.



Abnormal Psychology Research Project ~ Schizophrenia


The category of disorders I am presenting is Schizophrenia. In my two text books, information can be found on pages: 220, 239-242 in Adjustment and Growth The Challenges of Life sixth edition by Spencer A. Rathus and Jeffrey S. Nevid and pages 101, 557-563 in Psychology: Frontiers and Applications Second Canadian Edition by Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell, and Muir.


                                                   ~GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA~

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of control of thought processes and inappropriate emotional responses. Of all the psychological disorders, schizophrenia is the most serious and, in many ways the most puzzling and difficult to treat ( Hogarty, 2003). Despite the thousands of research studies and many theories of schizophrenia, a complete understanding of this disorder has not been successfully obtained. The term schizophrenia was introduced by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911. Literally the term means “split¬†¬†mind”, which is often confusing for people. Many would confuse schizophrenia with a dissociative identity disorder or with a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde phenomenon. The term “split mind” is intended to suggest that certain psychological functions, such as thought, language, and emotion, which are joined together in normal people, are somehow split apart or disconnected in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects equal numbers of males and females, but it appears earlier in males, frequently between the ages of 15 and 30 ( Jeste & Heaton, 1994).



Schizophrenia has behavioural, emotional, and cognitive facets that can very widely from case to case. In my research I have found four major subtypes of schizophrenia in my research.

  • ¬†Paranoid type: A type of schizophrenia characterized primarily by delusions commonly of persecution, and delusions of grandeur in which they believe they are enormously important.suspicion, anxiety, or anger may accompany the delusions, and hallucinations.

  • Disorganized type:¬† Disorganized schizophrenics show disorganized delusions and vivid hallucinations. The central features are confusion and incoherence, together with severe deterioration of adaptive behaviour. Their behaviour often appears silly and childlike, and their emotional responses are highly inappropriate. Thought disorganization is often so extreme that is it very difficult to communicate with them. These people usually cannot function on their own.

  • Catatonic type: Catatonic schizophrenics show striking impairment in motor activity ranging from muscular rigidity to random or repetitive movements. Catatonics sometimes alternate between stuporous states in which they seem oblivious to reality and agitated excitement during which they can be dangerous to others. Something I found quite interesting was that while in a stuporous state they may exhibit a ” wavy flexibility” in which their limbs can be moulded by another person into grotesque positions that they will then maintain for hours. The following picture below is an example of¬†wavy flexibility.


  • ¬†Undifferentiated type: Undifferentiated type schizophrenics are people who exhibit some of the symptoms and thought disorders of the above categories but not enough of the specific criteria to be diagnosed in those categories.

In addition to these formal categories, many mental health¬† workers and researchers categorize schizophrenic reactions into two main categories on the basis of two classes of symptoms.Type I schizophrenia¬†is characterized by a¬† predominance of positive symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, and disordered speech and thinking. These symptoms are refered to as “positive” because they represent pathological extremes of normal process. Type II schizophrenia¬† features negative symptoms which is an absence of normal reactions such as lack of emotional expression, loss of motivation, and an absence of normal speech. ( Herz & Marder, 2002)

Why are these subtypes important?

  • Researchers have found differences in brain function between schizophrenics having positive symptoms and those with mainly negative symptoms (Gur et al., 1998; Zakzanis, 1998)
  • Subtypes also show difference in life history and prognosis
  • ¬†Negative symptoms are likely to be associated with a long history of poor functioning prior to hospitalization and with a poor outcome following treatment (McGlashan & Fenton, 1992)
  • Positive symptoms especially those associated with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia are associated with good functioning prior to breakdown anda better prognosis for eventual recovery, particularly is the symptoms came on suddenly and were preceded by a history of relatively good adjustment ( Fenton & McGlashan, 1991a,1991b)


Pyschologists have investigated various factors that may contribute to schizophrenia.

I will give a brief description of each for the class to use as a resource.

  • ¬†The thalamus plays such an important role in routing sensory information to higher brain regions, disrupted thamalic functioning can produce a highly confusing world for its victims. In research at the National Institute¬†of Mental Health carried out by Nancy Andreason and her co-workers (1994), MRIs from 39 schizophrenic were compared to 47 normal male volunteers. Brain images showed specific abnormalities¬† in the thalamus of the “schizophrenic” brains. Researchers suggested that malfunctioning in this structure could help to account for the confused thinking and disordered attention that characterize schizophrenic behaviour.
  • Psychodynamic views¬†– The psychodynamic model views schizophrenia as the overwhelming of the ego by sexual or aggressive impulses from the id. The impulse threaten the ego and cause intense intrapsycic conflict.under this threat the person regresses to an early phase of the oral stage in which the infant has not yet learned that it and the world are separate. fantasies become confused with reality giving birth to hallucinations and delusions. primitive impulses may carry more weight than social norms.

Diagram of Freud’s psyche theory

  • Behavioral views: Behaviorists explain schizophrenia through conditioning and observational learning. From this perspective people show schizophrenic behaviour when it is more likely than normal behaviour to be reinforced. this may occur when the person is reared in a ¬†socially unrewarding or punitive situation. Inner fantasies then become more reinforcing than social realities. *Remember we learned about conditioning and observational learning earlier with Albert who was the baby scared of everything fuzzy*
  • Genetic factors:Schizophrenia, like many other psychological disorders runs in families ( Grove and others, 1991). Schizophrenic persons constitute about 1% of the population. But children with one schizophrenic parent have a 10-15% chance of becoming a schizophrenic ad children with two schizophrenic parents have about a 35% chance of developing the disorder ( Gottesman, 1991).Twin studies also find about a 45% concordance rate for the diagnosis among pairs of identical twins, whose genetic codes are the same, as compared to a 13% rate among pairs of fraternal twins who are no more closely related genetically than other siblings (Gottesman, 1991; Murray & Reveley, 1986) heredity cannot be the sole factor, most investigators today favor a multifactorial model in which genetic factors create a predisposition toward schizophrenia. The predisposition interacts with other factors, such as the quality of parenting, viral infections, birth complications, and stress to produce schizophrenia. ( Gottesman, 1991; Michels & Marzuk, 1993a)
  • The Dopamine Theory of schizophrenia¬†¬†-THe dopamine theory of schizophrenia evolved from observation of the effects of amphetamines, a group of stimulants. researchers are confident that amphetamines act by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. High doses of amphetamines lead to behaviour that mimics paranoid schizophrenia in normal people, and even low doses exacerbate the behaviours of schizophrenics. ( Synder, 1980) A second source of evidence for the dopamine theory lies in the effects of a class of drugs called phenothiazines. It does not appear that schizophrenic persons produce more dopamine than others but that their brains are more sensitive to dopamine ( Snyder, 1984)
While doing further research, I have found that fairly recent studies have concluded that there may be a link between use of cannabis and schizophrenia. I have included a paper by Filip Smit, Linda Bolier & Pim Cuijpers from¬†Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Utrecht, the Netherlands. You will be able to view this if you scroll down to bottom of my blog and click “Cannabis use and the risk of later schizophrenia:¬†a review¬†” in my blogroll. Might make you think twice about making plans to get baked anytime soon.
  • ¬†Schizophrenic patients are likely to be treated with¬†Antipsychotic drugs ( also called major tranquilizers). In most cases, these drugs reduce agitation, delusions, and hallucinations (Michels & Marzuk, 1993)
  • Phenothiazines is a family of drugs that are effective in treatment of many cases of schizophrenia.THe phenothiazines, work by blocking the action of dopamine receptors ( Michels & Marzuk, 1993a). Some examples of phenothiazines are :¬†chlorpromazine (brand name: Thorazine), fluphenazine (Duraclon), mesoridazine (Serentil), perphenazine (Etrafon and Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), promazine (Robinul and Anectine), thioridazine (Mellaril), trifluoperazine (Stelazine) and triflupromazine (Robinul).
  • Clozapine is effective in treating many seriously disturbed schizophrenics who are unresponsive to other antipsychotic drugs ( Baldessarini & Frankeburg, 1991 ; Green & Salsman, 1990; Naber & Hippius, 1990; Pickar and others, 1992)
Schizophrenia afflicts only one to two percent of the population, yet schizophrenic patients occupy about half of all psychiatric hospital beds ( Satcher, 1999) Many others, barely function as “homeless people” in large cities ( Herman et al., 1998). About 10% of people with schizophrenia remain permanently impaired, and 65% show intermittent periods of normal function. The other 25% recover from the disorder ( American Psychiatric Association, 1994)

I tried to find some famous people with schizophrenia, I didn’t find much because schizophrenia is a brain disorder that typically strikes people when they are quite young – age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous, they are just starting out their professional lives after completing high school or college. I was quite impressed that many of these people who had been diagnosed or had been suspected of suffering from schizophrenia had quite normal jobs.

Many “historical diagnoses” are frequently not entirely certain — a “good guess” for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Following is a list of famous people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of suffering (or who had suffered) from schizophrenia.

  • Tom Harrell, Jazz Musician
  • Meera Popkin, Broadway Star
  • John Nash, Mathematician/Nobel Prize Winner
  • Albert Einstein’s son: Eduard Einstein
  • Dr. James Watson’s son ( Dr. Watson is co-discover of DNA and Nobel Prize winner)
  • Alan Alda’s Mother ( Alan Alda is the famous TV actor from the series MASH)
  • Andy Goram – Scottish Soccer Player/ Goal Keeper
  • Syd Barrett of the band Pink Floyd
  • James Beck Gordon (JIm Gordon) – had been one of the greatest drummers of his time
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln ( past-PResident of the United States)
I hope you guys found this somewhat interesting, and can use it as a study tool for the Mental Illness test coming up.